Asad, “An ambassador is important… There is nothing real yet.”

Assad urges US to rebuild diplomatic road to Damascus Interview by Ian Black, Guardian

Syria expects the US to send an ambassador to Damascus soon to make good on Barack Obama’s offer to engage in dialogue with countries the Bush administration shunned, President Bashar al-Assad told the Guardian today.

Assad used a rare newspaper interview to set out his hopes for a new relationship with the US now the Bush era is over – one he hopes will see Washington act as the “main arbiter” in the moribund Middle East peace process. “There is no substitute for the United States,” Assad said.

Referring to Obama’s call for countries to “unclench their fists” , Assad said he believed the new US president had been referring to Iran. “We never clenched our fist,” he declared. “We still talked about peace even during the Israeli aggression in Gaza.”….

An ambassador is important,” Assad said. “Sending these delegations is important. This number of congressmen coming to Syria is a good gesture. It shows that this administration wants to see dialogue with Syria. What we have heard from them – Obama, Clinton and others – is positive.” But he added: “We are still in the period of gestures and signals. There is nothing real yet.”…

Underlining his hopes for a significant shift from Washington, the Syrian leader said he would welcome a visit to Damascus by General David Petraeus, the head of US central command, to discuss collaboration over Iraq and other issues. A planned visit by Petraeus was blocked by the Bush White House. “We would like to have dialogue with the US administration. We would like to see him [Petraeus] here in Syria,” Assad said….

Assad also urged the US and Europe to engage with Iran and not to pin false hopes for change on this summer’s presidential elections. “This is an Iranian issue,” he said. “In Iran there is unity about the main national issues. Forget about the rhetoric. “I would say to Obama and the Europeans: ‘Don’t waste your time on this. Go and make dialogue.’ The only way is to go for direct engagement.”

Assad, who is also mending fences with Saudi Arabia, a longtime rival, said he backed a return to the format of the Madrid peace conference of 1991, when all Arab states agreed to negotiate a comprehensive peace with Israel. Yasser Arafat’s launch of the Oslo process with Israel had been a mistake, he believed.

The Syrian leader made it clear he would not be pressured into making gestures. The US and Britain would like him to send an ambassador to Beirut after last year’s historic establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon. But he warned: “We will not send an ambassador to Lebanon because Britain, France and the US want us to. This is a sovereign issue. We are not doing it for Europe or for anyone else.”

Assad said he was unconcerned by the opening on 1 March of the UN tribunal investigating the Hariri assassination, which some observers feel was driven by a US political agenda and could become a significant barrier to the accelerating rapprochement with the west. Any request for the handover of Syrians to the tribunal would require Syria’s agreement, he said.

Syria will run up its largest budget deficit in its history this year At 9.25 percent of GDP.
Syria Today

…The the budget deficit will balloon to SYP 266bn (some USD 5.32bn) over 2009, some 17.6 percent higher than the 2008 deficit and 168 percent more than that of 2007. At 9.25 percent of GDP, this is the largest deficit in the country’s history in both absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP.

It is also a long way from the goal of the country’s Tenth Five-Year Plan which stipulates that the budget deficit should not exceed 4 percent of GDP by 2010. The alarming rise in the budget deficit has led the government to roll out a range of measures, including controversial public spending cuts to reduce the amount of red ink on the books.

Tom Dine writes, “Getting U.S.-Syria Relations Out of the Deep Freeze” for The MidEast Peace Pulse blog of Israel Policy Forum. He is former Executive Director of AIPAC, Advisor to IPF & Search for Common Ground, Posted February 17, 2009

…..To return to normal bilateral relations, early, mid-course, and long term steps need to be taken.  I suggest three early and mid-term ones.

  1. Reestablish trust.  Positive moves are badly needed, including official contacts and exchanges, as well as continued gestures by top officials in both capitals.  Syrian negativity should cease; the U.S. should make it very clear that it will not follow any of the previous Administration’s policies aimed at regime change.  Both sides can join hands on the issue of 1.5 million Iraqi refugees now living in Syria, starting by acknowledging the hardships Syria is encountering and the fact that it is dealing with its new residents with compassion in the areas of housing, health care, and education.
  2. Normalize the status of each nation’s embassies in each other’s capital city.  A new American ambassador should be nominated, approved by the Senate, and sent to Damascus by June 30th.
  3. Publicly support and join in mediating a conclusion, with guarantees of troops and early warning systems, to the long-delayed, long-awaited Syria-Israel treaty of peace.  This international contract could dramatically change the dynamics of the region, recasting a new environment of peace and stability over the Levant, including with the Palestinians, if not further east.  It would also alter the nature of Syria’s relationship with non-state actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad.

The most important long-term challenges:

  1. Engage the two business communities, ending the Syria Accountability Act, helping Syria with its WTO application, and putting Syria on the road of economic growth, the same road that its neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan are on.  Syria wants American trade and investments and foremost technology.
  2. Engage Syria, engage Iran.  A U.S.-Syria rapprochement would provide America with a credible partner in future contact with Tehran.  Additionally, Iran’s regional influence could be greatly curtailed by depriving it of unhindered access to Syrian resources.

It is time for days of warmth in a normal U.S.-Syrian relationship.

Syria and Iraq
USIP and Stimpson Inst. based on recent visit: Overview (Summary by FLC)

“…Throughout our extensive consultations with Syrian leaders, as well as interviews with foreign policy experts, diplomats and business people, it was clear that Iraq by itself is not a top concern. Syrians tend to view Iraq as one element in an integrated, comprehensive view of the entire region, including other crises (mainly Israel-Palestine and Lebanon) and their relations with other regional players (particularly the U.S.). Our discussions about Iraq inevitably covered these other subjects, particularly due to the war in Gaza, which was at its peak during the Study Mission. In keeping with this more integrated outlook, Syrians still tended to discuss Iraq in terms of U.S.-Syria relations.

Even specific questions about the Iraqi government tended to elicit responses about the U.S. Syrians still see Washington as the dominant player in Iraqi politics. They seem not to have fully absorbed the implications of the U.S. withdrawal commitments and the newly empowered Iraqi government. …This could indicate that they are skeptical about the degree to which the improvements in Iraq of the past two years are sustainable and about U.S. commitments to withdraw.

President Assad indicated his support for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces accompanied by a conference of all political factions (excluding Al-Qaeda) in order to draft a new constitution. Many Syrians the group encountered appeared uninformed about certain recent developments in Iraqi politics. They described Iraq as cut off, even mysterious to outsiders, and not well integrated into the rest of the region. Nonetheless, Syria has begun to engage with Iraq. Syria has an ambassador in Baghdad and there have been high-level visits between the countries. One Syrian analyst read these moves as a signal to the Iraqi Sunnis — particularly the resistance — that the Iraqi government is legitimate and that they should take part in the political process. In general, however, Syria has relatively limited influence in Iraq, and almost no ability to project power and influence into Iraqi political, security or economic affairs, particularly when compared to Iraq’s more powerful neighbors Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran—states that have the means and the capability to be more involved on the ground. Still, Syria is by no means unimportant. It exerts influence in indirect and less costly ways, for instance by playing host to both a range of Iraqi opposition figures and the largest and most diverse community of Iraqi refugees. President Assad emphasized that Syria’s principal concern vis-à-vis Iraq are maintaining its territorial integrity. ……..They described relations with Iran as based more on common interests, as currently configured, rather than on ideology or a shared vision for the region.

The group encountered considerable curiosity about President Obama and a strong desire for improved relations with the U.S., even amidst the Gaza crisis. Specifically, it heard a great deal about common interests, whether in terms of stemming the spread of Islamist militancy and sectarianism, a stable and unified Iraq, or a comprehensive Arab- Israeli settlement. There was also much talk (and hope) that Syria and the U.S. could turn a new page with the new administration, the return of an American ambassador and the relaxation of sanctions. …Damascus remains cautious and watchful. In our conversations about Iraq, they made it clear that Damascus and Tehran do not see eye to- eye. Although not stated explicitly, the group detected an undercurrent of ambivalence about Syrian-Iranian ties, which remain grounded on interests and pragmatism, rather than a shared vision for the region.

Specific Issues

Iraq blowback:

The top concern expressed about Iraq was that assertive ethnic and sectarian identity and Islamist extremism could spill over from Iraq. Syrians were quick to blame the U.S. for unleashing these currents in Iraq and were emphatic in describing how this has worked against common U.S. and Syrian interests. Syrian officials claimed to deal “with Iraqis as Iraqis,” while other powers in the region (whom they did not name but presumably meant Saudi Arabia and Iran) promoted the interests of Sunnis and Shia and thereby fueled sectarianism in Iraq and in the region.
Conversely, they lauded Turkey’s efforts to deal with Kurdish militancy, and several analysts interviewed described the two countries’ efforts on Kurdish issues as in sync. The regime believes that Kirkuk and its disputed status has the potential to spark a regional conflict and listed it among Syria’s top concerns with regard to Iraq.

Lebanon.

Foreign fighters.

The movement of jihadi fighters across the Syria-Iraq border seems to have been reduced but not eliminated completely. It is likely the case that in the immediate, post-Saddam period, Syria actively facilitated the movement of jihadi fighters into Iraq, possibly calculating that it would keep the U.S. military tied down and engaged in a costly war. Promoting instability in Iraq and fanning the flames of Islamist militancy and sectarianism were always against long-term Syrian interests due to the risk of blowback. However, the regime likely calculated that these interests were worth sacrificing in the face of a hostile U.S. government they believed was intent on regime change in Syria.

As for the foreign fighter movement that continues, Syrian officials and analysts described security on the Iraqi border in terms of Syrian, rather than Iraqi, security. Syria faces its own internal threat from Islamist militants. Keeping these groups from harming the regime and disrupting internal stability takes precedence over keeping fighters out of Iraq. “You think of this as a border security issue,” our group was told, “(we) think of it as a city security issue.” In other words, it is easy to see why Syria might allow some movement across the border: either to keep these militants out of Syria, to maintain intelligence access to militant networks, or to avoid provoking a violent response bydenying passage.

Despite the Syrian regime’s angry public response following the U.S. military operations in Syrian territory in October 2008, the issue was rarely brought up in our meetings. The group did hear complaints that the U.S. does not treat Syria as a partner in combating Islamist militancy—a clear mutual U.S.-Syrian interest, according to some interviewees—but rather sees Syria as merely “the bad guy.” Pressed on the prospect of greater Iraqi-Syrian cooperation on the border, President Assad and others argued that there remained a serious capacity problem on the Iraqi side. (more on Syria & Saudi Arabia, here)

Signs Show Possible Thaw in US-Syrian Relations
By Edward Yeranian, VOA
Cairo, 17 February 2009

Professor Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma, who runs the well-known Syria Comment website thinks that there is an attitude of optimism in Damascus which reveals a sea-change in relations in recent weeks.

 “The Syrian attitude towards Obama’s presidency is quite hopeful. They’re hoping for the best and, of course, they’re preparing for the worst, because Syria has had a lot of bad experiences with the United States and relations are always tough,” said Landis. …..

 

Joshua Landis concurs with Paul Salem that Syria has made major strides towards accommodating some long-standing U.S. demands of Syria, recently, but the professor believes that the United States is still looking for more changes in Syrian policies that irritate Washington. “There are a number of important things that the U.S. wants from Syria. First of all, it wants Lebanese sovereignty and elections in Lebanon are coming up. So, Syria hasn’t appointed its ambassador, yet. All this going on now is a bunch of confidence-building measures, because nobody trusts the other,” he said.

“The Syrian attitude towards Obama’s presidency is quite hopeful. They’re hoping for the best and, of course, they’re preparing for the worst, because Syria has had a lot of bad experiences with the United States and relations are always tough,” said Landis. …..

……Mr. Assad says the word “peace” is linked to the word “land,” which he says means returning the entire Golan Heights.

However, Paul Salem, who heads the Beirut-based Carnegie Center for Peace in the Middle East, thinks that a new hardline Israeli government could be a set-back for both peace in the Middle East and Syrian relations with the United States.

“There has been a lot of stock put in Israeli-Syrian peace talks and, before the Israeli election, a lot of the talk was waiting for that to be the cornerstone of U.S. engagement with Syria and with Israel,” said Salem. “I think that the Israeli elections have dampened that aspect of the relationship and I think the U.S. now will have to look for ways to move forward with Syria, even if Israel is not ready to take a land-for-peace deal over the Golan.”

Salem has no doubt that the new Obama administration wants to improve relations with Syria and he believes that Damascus has been shifting its policies, in recent months, to match U.S. expectations of it: “There is no doubt that the Obama administration wants to very much engage with Syria, wants Syria to further change its behavior, but very clear that the Obama Administration is interested in improving relations with Syria and wanting Syria to play a more positive role in the region,” he said…..

Landis argues that Washington has sent mixed signals to Damascus and that President Obama has been non-committal in lifting the many Bush-era economic sanctions imposed on Damascus since 2004. He says Senator Kerry’s visit and the sale of spare parts for two Syrian planes are being touted as exceptions, not the rule. Worst of all for Syria, he underlines, is the re-appointment of Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, who he says is responsible for applying economic sanctions on Syria and other so-called “rogue states.” He says that is being viewed in Damascus as a clear “shot across Syria’s bow.”

Syria’s position strengthening internationally, regionally
Posted by Helena Cobban
February 16, 2009

Syria’s place in the world community– which the ideologues in the Bush White House did so much to attack and delegitimize– has been strengthening noticeably in the past few days/weeks.

Later this week, Sen. John Kerry, the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will visit Syria. Ahead of the visit, he said the Obama administration is eager to talk to Syria. The US has not had an ambassador there since 2005, though it does have an embassy.

From a domestic US perspective, it is extremely important that this rapprochement win solid support in both houses of Congress, since under pressure from the pro-Israel lobby– as well as the Bush administration– Congress has itself been another major driver of the “isolate and attack Syria” campaign.

At a regional level, Syria has won some new influence, too. Yesterday, the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz, visited Syria where he met President Bashar al-Asad and conveyed from King Abdullah (his older half-brother), a message about “bilateral ties and the importance of consultation and coordination between the two sides”, according to the Syrian official news agency….

Western spinmeisters and MSM have made a huge point about the depth and alleged intractability of the rift between the alleged “moderates” and “extremists” in the Arab world, a rift that seemed particularly evident during the most recent Gaza crisis.

But most western commentators often have little idea about the depth and complexity of the regional dynamics that continue to underlie regional– and in particular, inter-Arab– relations. I find it interesting that these two regimes, in particular, now apparently see it in their interest to move towards some degree of rapprochement.

The political fallout from the Gaza crisis continues. Egypt has been, I think, somewhat strengthened in its role in the region– as I wrote last week. But so, too, has Syria. So the whole regional system remains dynamic, and certainly not easily reducible to some form of a zero-sum “moderates versus extremists” template.

Mark Lynch at Foreign Policy, Arabs closing ranks

Arab reports suggest that Egyptian mediation is close to producing a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation (with a unity government to be chosen within 60 days) and a truce with Israel. Meanwhile, a high-level Saudi envoy (King Abdullah’s head of intelligence Prince Muqrin) recently appeared in Damascus — followed by Arab League head Amr Moussa ….

Stephen Walt on the possible death of the two-state solution. Part 2 is here:

Also, Bernard Avishai’s article on the tribes of Israel is not to be missed

Elliot Abrams to JPost:

But I do not think [President Bush] ever did or will change his view of the possibility of democratization, because it is based on his view of the individual. In other words, it is not fundamentally a political judgment; it is fundamentally a religious one: that is that individual rights are God-given, and that no state has the right to take them away. Therefore, individual rights have to be protected in every system. The only way to do that is through democratization, and ultimately all cultures will move toward that. As Bush used to put it: “You don’t need to impose democracy; you need to impose dictatorship.”

What he meant was that human rights are the natural desire. He has often been misunderstood to have said that this all has to take place within the next five years. In fact, he always said this is the work of generations. One question is whether it’s the work of two generations or 10. Another is what do you do about the human rights abuses going on now – and what do you do about the people in those countries who are fighting for democracy now?

It cannot possibly be the position of the US to say, “Well, they’re a bit too ambitious, this is premature; to hell with them; they may just have to spend their lives in jail.”

That is why I think we have an obligation to keep calling for their liberation, and for the expansion of human and political rights in those countries.

While on that subject, the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria has said repeatedly that it would be terrible for the US and/or Israel to make a deal with President Bashar Assad, claiming that this would serve to jeopardize even further the condition of moderate Syrians. Doesn’t this put democracies in a bind? Unable to make peace with the those elements within totalitarian societies who would welcome it, we are left to engage in deals with dictators. Isn’t this a way of weakening any chance for peace or democracy?

Israel is in a very different situation from that of the US. Your margin of security is smaller. And you don’t live between Canada and Mexico and two big oceans. So, while we can sort of experiment with Syria – and if we get it wrong, so we get it wrong – you, obviously, can’t afford to get it wrong with a place like Syria.

It’s really hard to envision a government worse than Assad’s, for Israel or for the people of Syria. Indeed, if it had played any worse a role than it did with respect to Iraq, the US would have attacked it, I suppose. There is no reason in the world to think that the people of Syria wish to be governed by this tiny – and, in the eyes of many of them, no doubt – heretical minority, which is covered in blood, including Syrian blood.

Al-Karamah Channel Voice for the Secular Syrian Opposition” (Quds Press Agency) – Mideastwire.com

On February 13, the Quds Press Agency reported: “A leadership source in the Damascus Declaration (opposition grouping) abroad has said that the Al-Karamah Satellite Channel, which is scheduled to begin broadcasting in March 2009, will be a media forum for what the source called “secular democratic opposition” in Syria. The channel will not speak for the Damascus Declaration and will not be a forum for the Muslim Brotherhood or the National Salvation Front. In an exclusive statement to Quds Press, Abd-al-Hamid al-Atasi, member of the committee of the Damascus Declaration, denied that the Al-Karamah Satellite Channel, which will be launched soon, is a Saudi or US product.

“He said that the channel is a forum for the secular democratic Syrian opposition and is not an official spokesman of the Damascus Declaration or the Justice and Construction Movement. The channel is a purely Syrian effort in terms of the idea and financial support. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor the United States has anything to do with it.

“Al-Atasi said that “sincere Syrian businessmen stand behind the channel, and had it not been for security circumstances, we would have announced their names.” On whether he means by saying that the Al-Karamah Channel would be a forum for the opposition that it would not be open to the Muslim Brotherhood, he said: “The Al-Karamah Channel will not be a forum for the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Karamah will defend the democratic voice inside the country, and the brotherhood is not a part of it. It will not be a voice for them. They always sing alone. They do not exist inside, and they are not members of the national council of the Damascus Declaration grouping.”

“Al-Atasi added that the channel “will embrace the democratic Islamic trend inside the country. They include Ahmad Tu’mah, Ali al-Abdallah, Yusuf al-Najjar, and others. The channel will not be a forum for Abd-al-Halim Khaddam, former Syrian vice-president and a leader in the National Salvation Front. In brief, it is a forum for the democratic secular opposition in Syria.”

“The Damascus Declaration website, which announced the launch of an Arabic version on its website on the Internet, said that the Al-Karamah Channel will be launched soon and that it will be “a free forum for the patriotic Syrian people who look for democracy,” as the site said.” – Quds Press Agency, United Kingdom

Rumyal wrote this weeks before the Israeli elections: “The upcoming Bibi term will be a rerun of the Shamir term from the late 80’s. It will be characterized by a declared willingness to negotiated on the basis of allowing some form of self-determination for the Palestinians while at the same time deepening the settlement enterprise. Whomever thinks that the two-state solution is still possible will have new facts on the ground to contend with in 3-4 years from now. While there’ll be a lot of suffering involved, mostly for Palestinians but also for Israelis, the bluntness of Bibi’s and Liberman’s ideology will hasten the realization in world view that the situation in Israel requires a treatment similar to that of SA.”

Syria attracts Gulf retail investors as it opens up economy
Syrian budget deficit widens to US$5.32 billion in 2009
Aoun sees ‘bright future’ for ties with ex-foe Syria

Works underway for Turkey-Syria train line

TCDD chairman Erol Inan said trains on the Aleppo-Mersin and the Aleppo-Gaziantep routes would run twice a week, noting that train cars would be provided by the CFS.

Inan said they attached great importance to train transportation between Turkey and Syria.

CFS chairman Georges Mokabari said the train service on the two routes would enliven trade and tourism between the two countries.

February 2009

Syria and the West: Enough of the Small Talk
Words Sarah Birke

In case you missed it, Syria is back in from the cold. After being sidelined by the West for several years, the second half of 2008 saw a flurry of European officials visit Damascus, the headlining acts including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Foreign Minister David Miliband. On December 14, the long-delayed Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union was initialled. Its ratification will lock Syrian-EU relations into a robust regional framework and greatly increase the amount of EU funding to Syria.

Moves by Damascus to help pass the Doha Agreement on Lebanon, stimulate the peace process with Israel, establish an embassy in Beirut and broker a now-defunct ceasefire in Gaza all won Damascus much praise from European capitals. A change in the tenant at the White House has also generated much hope for a more constructive Syrian-US relationship. It is a remarkable adjustment in a remarkably short period of time. Even more so given that many of the points raised by Europe and America for downgrading ties with Damascus in the first place – the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 and Damascus’ ties with the likes of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas – still stand.

A new era?

So why have relations changed now? EU, British and French sources attribute their newly open arms to Syria’s important role in calming many of the region’s flashpoints…..

US-SYRIA: Signs of a Thaw, But Differences Run Deep (Feb 17, 2009)
By Ali Gharib,  (Inter Press Service)

“Obama is preparing for serious engagement with Syria,” said Oklahoma University professor Joshua Landis, who also writes the popular Syria Comment blog. “Obviously, Syria is trying to come in from the cold, but it’s not easy.”…

“The Lebanese lobby [in the U.S.] is up in arms,” Landis said about the potential thaw between Washington and Damascus. “Their stance is, ‘Okay, engage Syria. But make sure you have a laundry list of demands, all having to do with Lebanese sovereignty.’”…

“There are people who say that [Netanyahu] doesn’t mean what he says and that he’s the best choice for making peace with Syria,” said Landis. “He says he is happy to talk to Syrians, but not about land. And he says he is going to build settlement. …But Landis suggests the remote possibility that, just as Menachem Begin negotiated peace with Egypt by giving away the Sinai Peninsula, thereby deflecting criticism of the occupation of the West Bank, Netanyahu may be willing to cede the Golan to keep attention off Israel’s internal Palestinian problems…..

“It raises the question of, ‘Can you get anything done?’” said Landis. “How much capital can you spend on [Syria] when you need every farthing you have to spend at home?” “If Obama is going to carry out a revolution in the Middle East, God bless him. He’s got a lot of revolutions to carry out,” he added…

Comments (84)


Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Alia said:

Chris,

LOL!!! Keep up the hysterics and the propaganda links. You are such a bad actor…I finished my typing for the day. You should go to bed it msut be late in Bella Italia, unless you are charging your masters overtime for your hard work here.

Dear Jad,

It has been fun having you around : )

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February 19th, 2009, 12:58 am

 

52. chris said:

Alia,

I stopped trying to act at 15. I knew I couldn’t do it then and I can’t do it now so I don’t try. But, yes it is late here.
Good night. Layla saida. A domani

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February 19th, 2009, 1:02 am

 

53. Nour said:

Chris,

The point is that you are approaching this issue in a very patronizing and condescending manner, in that you give the impression that you, the White Man, want to come and teach the Syrians how they should behave and what issues they should be concerned about. The issue of Honor Crimes is one that is being tackled at various levels around the Middle East in general, and in Syria in particular. Syrians understand that we have many different social, economic, and political problems and many activists in different areas are attempting to deal with these issues. Just like European nations and the US had to go through their rites of passage on their own, so must Syria experience its own growing pains as it develops and advances. We are not awaiting Americans or Europeans to come rescue us from our despair. We are a proud, proactive people that will do what it takes to fix our country and move it forward.

There is nothing wrong with discussing different social maladies plaguing Syria today, but there is something wrong with bringing a self-righteous attitude into the debate that is intended only to lecture the “backwards” Syrians on the proper standards of human behavior. It wasn’t really so long ago when women couldn’t vote in the US. It wasn’t so long ago when an entire segment of the American population was suppressed because of the color of their skin. And let us not forget that at the outset of the American colonies, women were burned at the stake for being accused of witchcraft. Yet, the US, through its own growth and development, was able to overcome many of its problems and improve its social and political condition. But with Syria it seems that we should not have the right to go through our own stages of development and must answer to US and European demands to behave properly. Well, we do not accept such an arrogant attitude toward our country and our people, just as you wouldn’t accept it toward yours.

If you wish to engage in a fruitful debate, no one here will mind it. But for you to sabotage this blog for the mere purpose of throwing all our imperfections in our face and listing all that is “wrong” with Syria and Syrians without even attempting to understand our culture and our history is not something that is going to be welcome by Syrians here.

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February 19th, 2009, 1:30 am

 

54. jad said:

‘I do not believe that telling other commentators to “shut up” is consistent with the Syria Comment rules.’

I went through the SC rules and there is no bylaw saying:
- using “Shut up” to an annoying SC commentator shall be prohibited

Therefore, I’m still under the rules and I declare myself innocent :)
Beside, we both know that you truly deserve it, Don’t you?

Ciao bella.

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February 19th, 2009, 1:31 am

 

55. norman said:

Alex,

Isn’t there a rule about too many comments in one day , can you apply to Chris what is the standard for AIG,

I think there should be a rule to have limit of comments per day for non Syrians , any comments from the Syrians.

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February 19th, 2009, 2:12 am

 

56. Soul Of Sydney said:

Hey Joshua,

I just found your blog through http://www.openlebanon.com

Thanks for sharing all this great articles & keeping us informed on what is happening with Syria, and around the middle east.

Peace from Bondi, Sydney Australia

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February 19th, 2009, 2:40 am

 

57. Alex said:

ehh …. hmm … In fact every once in a while I intentionally disappear for a couple of days so that you will realize the vital and indispensable role that I play here. A role that you usually take for granted.

But seriously,

1) Jad: No Shut ups please … remember? : )

2) Chris … for an Israeli, or a friend of Israel, to express concern for the lives of the few Syrian women who are killed through honor crimes, it takes someone like Rumyal or Shai .. someone that established a relatively consistent record of respecting and caring for the lives or the well being or the interest of all people in the Middle East.

The amount of energy that you (and AIG before you) are dedicating to exposing and highlighting everything that is not right in Syria (especially “the Assad family’s” Syria) does not make your claim (of caring about the lives of Syrian women) very credible.

You are far from being in the same league like Shai and Rumyal… you need to build credit (Good intentions, fairness and honesty credit) before you use it to criticize your enemy while claiming you are doing it because you passionately care about the enemy’s well being.

Unlike Rumyal (a fellow American who cares about Israel), You are perceived as an enemy … you need to either stick to defending Israel, or to first change that perception.

Until then, it is obvious you are not communicating too well here and I hope you would let the Syrians worry about their own social issues instead of giving the impression that you are here these days to present all the dirt you can bring in your limited 24 hours per day so that you can convince those American analysts or journalists who read our comment section, to convince them not to support or recommend anything more than a very limited opening by the Obama administration to “Syria under the Assad family dictatorship”

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February 19th, 2009, 5:50 am

 

58. jad said:

Dear Norman,
I asked Alex for a limit on all of us and he actually asked back about a number but nobody, including me, answered him.. Sorry Alex..I think he is still mad at me for revealing his age..Alex, please forgive me… :)

You know, Norman, I think it’s ok this way, otherwise you wouldn’t have fun and laugh reading such high level of intellectual entertainment coming out of those endless comments and arguments.
‘biya3mlo jaw’ Ha.

About the Syrian rights of writing more comments than the non Syrians; Are you targeting the Kurds? because if you are I’m going to label you as ’1962 Assad Regime collaborator’..so for your own sake I hope that you are not targeting the Kurds in your suggestion! Watch out!

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February 19th, 2009, 5:51 am

 

59. jad said:

Hi Alex, I really missed you, really really!
YES, I used ‘Shut up’ and I’m still stick to it, beside, I already declared myself innocent in the court of justice..you can ask all the witnesses and they will testify that the use of that word was fair….even the subject himself will agree.
I’ll try not to use it as excessively as O’Reilly :)

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February 19th, 2009, 6:08 am

 

60. jad said:

Sorry for being a big mouth today with more than 10 comments; this is a good news and related to the women rights.
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=90821

and another interesting article about the Violence against women
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=90828

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February 19th, 2009, 8:29 am

 

61. Rumyal said:

>>>> Alex: You are far from being in the same league like Shai and Rumyal… you need to build credit (Good intentions, fairness and honesty credit) before you use it to criticize your enemy while claiming you are doing it because you passionately care about the enemy’s well being….

My devious Zionist plot is finally paying off… I have earned enough credibility points to be able to criticize Syria! Buwahahaha

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February 19th, 2009, 9:22 am

 

62. Shai said:

JAD,

I like reading your comments, so I surrender 2 of my daily ones to you… Just remember me when I ask for an extra fish-paste tube on the Chinese shuttle…

Rumyal,

I don’t recall anything in “the plot” stating you’re allowed to ever admit you’re part of it. Please claim temporary insanity, and recall your statment. :-)

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February 19th, 2009, 11:31 am

 

63. Chris said:

Alex you wrote:
“The amount of energy that you (and AIG before you) are dedicating to exposing and highlighting everything that is not right in Syria (especially “the Assad family’s” Syria) does not make your claim (of caring about the lives of Syrian women) very credible.”

Alex on this blog, my recent posts have been about, among other things: the economic crisis and its effect on Syrian policy in the region, Bashar’s position on Gaza, Kurds in Syria, the death penalty, and then honor killing. These posts are hardly directed at pointing out everything that is wrong in Syria. You seem a bit defensive, my sense of this probably comes from the fact that you cannot accept any criticism of the regime.
Outside of the discussion of honor killings I really try to confine my criticism to the Assad family regime, not “everything that is not right in Syria” . Although I do feel the need to say something when people diminish the significance of honor killing, it should be clear that I’ve made an effort to confine my criticism the Bashar and his cronies, rather than the country as a whole.

I find it particularly odd that you have banned or limited the contributions from one of the few Israelis who contribute to this blog. Would you prefer an echo chamber rather than an open forum?

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February 19th, 2009, 12:26 pm

 

64. offended said:

I know you guys don’t care much about Dubai, but this seems to be an interesting bit of news:

Congressman Says Dubai Will Give Visa to Israeli Man

By RICHARD SANDOMIR

The United Arab Emirates will issue an entry visa to Andy Ram of Israel for next week’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Representative Anthony D. Weiner said Wednesday.

“I’ve gotten the assurance from the ambassador,” Weiner, Democrat from New York, said by telephone, referring to Yousef Al Otaiba, the U.A.E.’s ambassador to the United States.

The decision to grant Ram a visa to enter Dubai, one of the Emirates, comes after the government’s denial of a visa to another Israeli, Shahar Peer, the 48th-ranked women’s player in the world. She was to play in this week’s tournament in Dubai. The WTA Tour did not cancel the women’s tournament, but the Tennis Channel dropped its weekend coverage.

Tournament officials cited local public opinion about Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, the possibility of a spectator boycott and the security of Peer as reasons to deny her a visa.

On Wednesday, Weiner said: “It was my sense from the ambassador that he was looking to do the right thing, but that’s small consolation to Miss Peer. He understood that they had made a mistake and they had a public relations problem.”

The decision to grant Ram a visa could not be independently confirmed with the U.A.E. embassy in Washington or by the ATP Tour.

Ken Solomon, the chairman and chief executive of the Tennis Channel, said the network was looking into its archive to find Peer’s best tournament performance to replay Feb. 28 or March 1, the dates of the men’s semifinals and final.

Reuters reported that a Davis Cup first-round match from March 6-8 in Malmo, Sweden, between Israel and Sweden would be played in an empty 4,000-seat arena because of security concerns. The International Tennis Federation said in a statement that the decision by Malmo’s recreational committee was “very unfortunate” and “not in the long-term interests of the Davis Cup.” But it deferred to the local authority.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/sports/tennis/19tennis.html?_r=1&ref=sports&pagewanted=printReply to Your Post
Delete Post

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February 19th, 2009, 1:28 pm

 

65. norman said:

Printable view

Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 13:44 GMT

Syria daily says critical US visitors should stay away

DAMASCUS, Feb 19, 2009 (AFP) – A Syrian daily close to the government called on US delegations on Thursday to stay away if they are unable to adopt an impartial position towards the Damascus regime.

The editorial in the Al-Watan newspaper came after US Senator Benjamin Cardin expressed criticism of Syria’s longstanding alliance with Iran and Arab militant groups during a visit to Damascus on Wednesday.

The paper said Cardin’s comments were “out of touch with the realities of the Arab world and very close to Israel’s agenda.”

It would be better, it said, if US delegations planning to express similar views “did not come to Damascus, as they will find nobody here who is ready to listen to Israeli diktats delivered via the United States.”

The paper complained that Cardin, who held talks with President Bashar al-Assad during his visit, had “failed to distinguish between resistance and terrorism.”

“The Lebanese and Palestinian resistance are supported by the people of Europe and the Arab world,” it added.

Cardin had criticised Syrian support for Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“Syria has isolated itself by its partnership of terrorism, by providing safe haven to terrorist organisations, its relations with Hamas and Jihad, and a troubled relationship with Iran,” the US senator told a news conference after his talks.

“The question we came to try to answer here is about whether Syria is ready to make important and significant decisions that will bring us closer together and move forward.”

Senator John Kerry, who chairs the foreign relations committee, is expected in Damascus later this week.

During a visit to neighbouring Lebanon on Wednesday, Kerry said that the new administration of President Barack Obama would press Syria to help disarm Hezbollah as it forges ahead with a fresh diplomatic approach.

“We want Syria to respect the political independence of Lebanon, we want Syria to help in the process of resolving issues with Hezbollah and with the Palestinians,” he said after meeting Lebanese leaders.

“We want Syria to help… with the disarmament of Hezbollah.”

rm/kir/bpz

Copyright © 2009 ABQ Zawya Ltd. All rights reserved. Please read our User Agreement

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February 19th, 2009, 1:45 pm

 

66. Chris said:

Nour,

I did not mean to sound patronizing… The conversation really ensued when someone went on saying that honor killing isn’t common. It sounded as if she was trying to dismiss the issue as insignificant, when in fact it certainly seems like a significant issue to me.

“The issue of Honor Crimes is one that is being tackled at various levels around the Middle East in general, and in Syria in particular.”

I’m aware. Jad pointed this out with his mention of Nesasy ( http://www.nesasy.org/ ). Earlier I also posted a link to a NYTimes article on the discussion about honor killings that occurred in Syria which the followed from the killing of 16-year of old Zahra al-Azzo in 2007 ( http://www.nesasy.org/ ) .

“Yet, the US, through its own growth and development, was able to overcome many of its problems and improve its social and political condition. But with Syria it seems that we should not have the right to go through our own stages of development and must answer to US and European demands to behave properly. Well, we do not accept such an arrogant attitude toward our country and our people, just as you wouldn’t accept it toward yours.

First of all Nour, I am merely pointing out how serious of an issue honor killings are. That is not being arrogant. Syrian activists (which the NYTimes article points out) are working on this issue as well. In fact, its probably the case that most Syrians would oppose honor killings. The guy in Bab Touma who helped a lot of us students, including myself, find rooms in the old city said that killing was wrong but that something should be done.

It sounds like you are saying that Westerners should avoid discussing human rights issues in the middle east because we do not share the same nationality. For people who believe in the notion of human rights that line of reasoning doesn’t work. Well, I don’t think that anti-death penalty people in Europe or elsewhere shouldn’t criticze the U.S. for its use of capital punishment. If they are against the death penalty then they ought to criticize the U.S for using it. I think people can criticize the U.S. for Abu Ghraib, , for the CIA black sites. Those are real issues that ought to be dealt with and international pressure could aid in dealing with them or preventing similar things in the future.

“But for you to sabotage this blog for the mere purpose of throwing all our imperfections in our face and listing all that is “wrong” with Syria and Syrians without even attempting to understand our culture and our history is not something that is going to be welcome by Syrians here.”

The only imperfection of Syria that I have been discussing is honor killings. Well, a while back we did discuss how liked Hitler did seem to be when I was in Syria. But that was a number of months ago, so I hardly think that I have been listing all that is wrong with Syria on this blog. When I criticize the policies of the regime, I make a concerted effort to distinguish between the Assad family regime and the country itself. So, I am a bit surprised that after a discussion of one issue you would say that I am here listing all that is wrong with Syria. Could it be that any discussion of a potential criticisim of Syria bothers you?

You say that I have not even attempted too understand Syria’s histor or culture. That is quite an assumption. Well, I have lived in Syria for 10 months and studied the language while there. I plan to return too Syria this summer. So I have made an attempt. I am a graduate student of the Middle East and I have read a few books on Syria specifically. I recently wrote a paper on Syria and Lebanon that will be published in the spring. So please do not assume that because I do not make excuses for the regime or that I think that honor killing is serious that I know nothing of Syria.

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February 19th, 2009, 1:45 pm

 

67. Nour said:

Chris,

You first brought up the issue of honor crimes in your response to Norman’s demand for Capital Punishment, in which you stated that capital punishment is something only common in the middle east, as are honor killings. This appears to be a very condescending statement because it essentially implies that capital punishment is common in backwards places where they also have other backwards practices, such as honor killings. Well, first, capital punishment is quite common in the US itself, so your assumption is quite false. Second, honor killings should not be compared to the issue of capital punishment. Capital punishment is a controversial legal matter that is discussed and debated by legal scholars around the world. I myself am opposed to capital punishment, but that is a matter for another debate. On the other hand, honor killings are viewed as inhumane, criminal acts by the vast majority of people, both in the west and in the middle east.

But in any case, I have no problem with you discussing particular Syrian matters if you are indeed doing it from an objective, genuine perspective. And I commend you if you are studying middle east history and are open enough to visit Syria. I would merely urge that you use a little discretion in the manner in which you approach certain subjects so that you don’t offend people you are trying to reach.

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February 19th, 2009, 2:23 pm

 

68. Akbar Palace said:

Chris,

Here’s the big news in “biased” right wing news sources. CAIR presents an award to a man who beheaded his wife… Aparently the MSM (or Grant F. Smith or the participants of SC) doesn’t find this newsworthy…

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=89231

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February 19th, 2009, 2:28 pm

 

69. Chris said:

Sorry I wasn’t very clear Nour. I wasn’t trying to say that capital punishment only happens in backward places. What I was trying to say is that just because something is common in our area does not mean that it would be acceptable by the international community. So, while Norman may live in the U.S. (I don’t know if he does or not) and capital punishment is common in some parts of the U.S., it would be easy for him, or many in the U.S., to erroneously jump to the conclusion that we could extend the use of it to the international arena, since it seems “normal.” Well, to make the fallacy of that conclusion clear, I used an example, like honor killing, of something that would clearly not be acceptable to the international community but is common in the Middle East to show that simply because we see something happen in our community does not mean that the world will embrace it.

That being said, I do believe capital punishment is backward. Ultimately, it stems from people’s inclination for vengeance, a primal instinct.

I was only comparing capital punishment to honor killings in that both are common in some places but wouldn’t be embraced by the international community. This is the only relationship that I was highlighting. Again, I guess I should have been more clear.

“On the other hand, honor killings are viewed as inhumane, criminal acts by the vast majority of people, both in the west and in the middle east.”

Do you have any data on this? I think you might be right. I hope you’re right, but the fact that the perpetrators of honor killings are protected by the laws of Syria and Jordan makes me wonder. The fact that UNICEF said that in Gaza “According to 1999 estimates, more than two-thirds of all murders were most likely ‘honour’ killings” also makes me wonder. ( http://www.unicef.org/newsline/00pr17.htm )

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February 19th, 2009, 2:49 pm

 

70. Akbar Palace said:

Chris,

Captial punishment is up to society, wherever that might be, and implies a high standard of justice when determining guilt.

“Honor” killing doesn’t compare. It implies complete control over the worthless victim, void of any due process or civil rights.

Capital punishment is a sentence handed out in a court of law, the other is simply murder.

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February 19th, 2009, 3:03 pm

 

71. Chris said:

AP,

I agree with your view of how “honor” killing and capital punishment differ.

I think that in 2009 we can move away from capital punishment. We as human beings should have moved away from honor killing about 5,000 years ago.

“Honor” Killing implies that the victim is worthless, and that the image of the killer or family of the killer is more important that the girl or woman’s life.

About CAIR: for me the jury has been out on them for a long time. I never really knew what to make of them. They sent me a beautiful Koran for the shipping costs only ($7). But now this?!?!?!

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/02/16/buffalo.beheading/?eref=rss_topstories

Here’s an interesting letter from a member of the honor killer’s family:

“He was known as violent and abusive in the community… Neither his character and nor his faith were sound. In addition, he had no background or expertise in TV production or media.
But none of it mattered; he still got the stage at the most reputable American Muslim conventions. Our leaders and established organizations did not bother to vet him. No questions or flags were raised about him… As a gesture of this support, Hassan received many awards. The American Muslim community, desperate for its own English channel in the United States, collected millions of dollars and handed it over to him.”
http://www.alarabiya.net/views/2009/02/19/66779.html

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February 19th, 2009, 3:24 pm

 

72. jad said:

‘I find it particularly odd that you have banned…….’
If you miss AIG’s outstanding comments that much just go to Qifa Nabki blog, AIG is almost taking over QN comment’s arena.
You will defiantly be very satisfy to learn from him and please engage with him there.

‘Do you have any data on this?…I hope you’re right, ……makes me wonder…..’
No need to wonder that much, you already have the numbers, and in the case of Syria, even going to the 300 number out of 21,000,000 can be used as the data you are asking for so you figure out if this lovely ritual accepted by the majority of Syrians.

Are you punishing us today by posting a lengthy repeated comments every couple minuets now? please go back to the short messenger chitchat mode at least it wont make me sleep.

Shai, Thank you, I brought some food tube from my trip with the Chinese. just let me know what it your favourit one so i can post it to you :)

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February 19th, 2009, 3:33 pm

 

73. JG said:

Has Kerry made any statements in Syria/Gaza, etc? Seems likes he’s being relatively quiet for a travelling diplomat in a pickle.

mideastbymidwest.com

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February 19th, 2009, 5:01 pm

 

74. nafdik said:

I don’t know how we got dragged into the topic honor killing.

Honor killing is a crime like any other. The problem with honor killing is that in some countries it has lower penalty than a normal murder or no penalty.

The Syrian government in this case is taking positive steps to reduce this crime by trying to fight it. It has not modified the legal system, because the majority of the population is against that.

They are actually acting like a democracy in this regard.

I agree that a constitutional democracy might change the laws in spite of the public by going back to the constitution, but it all depends on the constitution.

Chris, what do you recommend? Force the laws in a dictatorial fashion against the will of the majority, or educate the majority until they change their mind and then change the laws?

We can not ask the AFR to be both democratic and dictatorial depending on the topic.

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February 19th, 2009, 5:44 pm

 

75. Akbar Palace said:

Chris,

I’m for the death penalty for unusually heinous and violent crimes. Some people, like bad animals (like the chimp that almost killed a woman a few days ago), they have to be put down. Not only for punishment, but also to prevent them from killing again.

Changing the subject, looks like the IAEA found more traces of uranium from the Syrian “military site”.

Hey, let’s search the IRMEP and the western media to see if they have more info on this!;)

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3674644,00.html

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February 19th, 2009, 5:48 pm

 

76. nafdik said:

AP,

Assuming there is Uranium on the site.

Do you conclude that Israel is justified in bombing Syria?

Do you generalize to say that any country developing a nuclear bomb could/should be attacked by its neighbor?

Or do you think this should be limited only for countries that constitute a threat to that neighbor?

Or that it should be limited to countries whose name start with S or I?

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February 19th, 2009, 5:53 pm

 

77. jad said:

Nafdik,
“It has not modified the legal system, because the majority of the population is against that.”
EXCUSE ME! Where did you get this information from? where did you ever read that the majority of the Syrians are Pro-Honor crime, to state that the majority of us are against changing the law for couple hundreds of criminals?????????????????????????????????????
Please, if you have any prove of that show it to us here, otherwise I personally ask you to take it back as a ‘FACT’ as you show it and state that it was your own personal observation.
That is very serious issue when you generalize your observation about the Syrian without having a prove of what you state, don’t you agree?

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February 19th, 2009, 6:00 pm

 

78. nafdik said:

Jad,

I take it back.

It was based on very superficial understanding of the situation, without doing the thourough research.

What is your read on the situation?

Is the majority of Syrians for the change in the laws? Why has the government not acted?

I hope YOU will give us the stats.

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February 19th, 2009, 6:23 pm

 

79. Chris said:

I wrote:
Nour’s quote: ““ On the other hand, honor killings are viewed as inhumane, criminal acts by the vast majority of people, both in the west and in the middle east.”
me:
Do you have any data on this? I think you might be right. I hope you’re right, but the fact that the perpetrators of honor killings are protected by the laws of Syria and Jordan makes me wonder.”

You then quote me as saying
‘Do you have any data on this?…I hope you’re right, ……makes me wonder…..’

and write you write:
No need to wonder that much, you already have the numbers, and in the case of Syria, even going to the 300 number out of 21,000,000 can be used as the data you are asking for so you figure out if this lovely ritual accepted by the majority of Syrians.

-

You seem to have “edited” out my “I think you may be right statement.” Looks like what we might see coming out of SANA. Cherry picking.
-

When 300 Syrian women or girls are murdered by their fathers or brothers every and then they are protected by the laws of the country I have got to wonder whether about the degree to which the population views these killings as justified or whether they believe protection should be extended to the murderers. You site the murder of 300 and compare it to the size of the population; well how often does a man catch his wife cheating on him or how often does a brother find out about his sister having relations with her boyfriend? How often does that person then decide to kill his wife or sister?
=============================

Nafdik,

You wrote:
“Honor killing is a crime like any other. The problem with honor killing is that in some countries it has lower penalty than a normal murder or no penalty.

The Syrian government in this case is taking positive steps to reduce this crime by trying to fight it. It has not modified the legal system, because the majority of the population is against that.”
—–

Well Nafdik this what worries me. I worry that because honor killing is protected under Syrian law that perhaps it has support from among the population. The NYTimes article that I have linked to ( http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/10/world/middleeast/10cnd-syria.html?ex=1171602000&en=5ef9bfbac919c1d9&ei=5070 ) seems to indicate that there is support from within the population for protection of honor killings.

You then asked “Chris, what do you recommend? Force the laws in a dictatorial fashion against the will of the majority, or educate the majority until they change their mind and then change the laws?

We can not ask the AFR to be both democratic and dictatorial depending on the topic.”
—–

No one should think that dictators are not responsive public opinion. To a certain degree, albeit a limited one, they must be responsive to popular opinion. If public opinion didn’t matter why else would they encourage a “cult of personality?” I feel like the picture of Bashar Assad has been etched permanently into my brain after living in Syria for 10 months. Of course, dictators want the support of their people.

Addressing the issue of the honor killing ought not be tied to democracy. The Assad family regime is well entrenched in Syria. Bashar seems to have consilidated his rule. So, rather than try to ameliorate the human rights situation in Syria by wishing it to become a democracy, pressuring the regime to reverse laws that protect “honor” killers might be a better approach. Governments can launch campaigns and government can alter public opinion, much of which seems to be against honor killing anyway.

===========================

AP,

The IAEA found uranium in Syria a while back. I’m interested in reading more about what they found now. I was quite surprised, especially because one of the reports I read said that it was enriched uranium. The Assad family regime in Syria would have to have been quite ambitious to obtain enriched uranium.

I’m going to look it up and see what I can find. Thanks for the info.

-

Nafdik,

Syria has been virulently opposed to the mere existence of Israel for the last sixty years. It has been among the most, if not the most, radical state in the region with respect to its rejection of Israel. It has actively supported the PFLP-GC, HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and a multitude of Islamist groups in Lebanon (my favorite of which is al-ahbash). It undermined efforts toward peace during the Oslo process, part of this of course was supporting Islamist groups in Lebanon. Given all of that Israel would be acting in self-defense if they prevented Syria from developing a nuclear program.

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February 19th, 2009, 7:04 pm

 

80. jad said:

Dear Nafdik,
Thank you, I appreciate your honesty :)
Regardless of any answer, suggestion or comment you might get from a foreign student who says that he lived 8month in Syria so he can tell us what we should do!? This is my serious answer to your question:

“Is the majority of Syrians for the change in the laws? Why has the government not acted?”

Regarding this issue and from a pure observation point of view, it’s actually all the way around; the government opposes to change the law not the people, in respect of some backward religious clerics of the country nothing more, but recently and because of the changes we see in the religious groups they are acting in favor of the change so they are at the same base with them.
This issue was a taboo to talk about publicly or in the newspaper, it just came to surface in the last 5 years no older than that and because of couple horrendous crimes that happened where the government couldn’t stop it anymore from being discussed publicly.
If you ask any average Syrian about the issue he/she will give you a hazy answer because he/she is not personally close to the problem and because they don’t have a very clear view of the issue other than the superficial stuff they see on TV or hear on the Radio, the answer you will get is:
Yes, they should change the law immediately, BUT, they should take the circumstances of the situation accordingly.
That means ‘YES and BUT’ answer for couple reasons:
1- Syrians in general are very peaceful and emotional, they are accepted to what they believe is right and within their religion rules, Muslims and Christians alike, still not to the level where the civil justice system is the ultimate for them to go to since we believe that the justice system is corrupted and is not fair which is true on many occasions.
2- The revenge myth that came from our tribal background mentality (which I think costs way more lives than honor crimes), in short “Tradition” and “Customs” regardless of how backward and bad we think in them right now, it is one of the major problems we still need to deal with for generations to come.
3- Syrians in general are considerate and they always put themselves in other people’s situation and think about it before they give you their judgment and that where the “but” comes from, they immediately think “oh, what if it was my wife or husband who did the same, I can’t live with the shame of that in the society so I better be careful’ kind of scenario.
Not to mention the education level of the Syrian of whom you are asking.
That is my understanding of the situation and I totally blame the government for not changing the law until now, it’s their duty to do so and they must act regardless of any fatwa you have out there. If they go with a referendum on changing the law today, I believe that you will have a support for changing this law by the majority of Syrians.
Again this is a personal views and I don’t have any data to exchange with you except the 300 crimes happened in a country of 21M.

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February 19th, 2009, 7:32 pm

 

81. jad said:

SANA to “I have no idea what I’m talking about but I’ll keep writing”

(When 300 Syrian women or girls are murdered by their fathers or brothers every and then they are protected by the laws of the country..bla bla bla..)

They are not protected by the law ‘smarty’ they get a less sentences than a normal crime, THEY STILL GO TO JAIL, don’t write LIES and spreads them…remember SC rules…I suggest for you to go and read them again!
“Protected by the law of the country” is way different from having less harsh sentences…

I’m sure that we will get another priceless bla..bla bla.for the rest of the day today…so I’d better stay away from this blog till bella leaves the stage…

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February 19th, 2009, 7:52 pm

 

82. Alex said:

Chris said:

Outside of the discussion of honor killings I really try to confine my criticism to the Assad family regime, not “everything that is not right in Syria” . Although I do feel the need to say something when people diminish the significance of honor killing, it should be clear that I’ve made an effort to confine my criticism the Bashar and his cronies, rather than the country as a whole.

I find it particularly odd that you have banned or limited the contributions from one of the few Israelis who contribute to this blog. Would you prefer an echo chamber rather than an open forum?

Chris,

Repeating “bashar and his cronies” in every comment is not going to be allowed from someone like you who is ok with Olmert and his cronies who unnecessarily killed thousands in Lebanon then Palestine, or Sharon or his cronies who encouraged the Bush administration to go to Iraq … a war that caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and over a trillion dollars so far … “Bashar and his cronies” did not cause a tiny fraction of this damage.

You should understand by now that our discussion rules here are not like those of Israel’s “the boss has gone mad” where 10001 to 1 is perfectly justified. If I allow you to go on talking about Bashar as some kind of a mad murderer, then I will have to expect everyone here to reply with opinions that are as silly as yous … for example that Israel is much more criminal than the Nazis.

Akbar Palace, a “friend of Israel”, was never banned. Did you notice? … because he is here mostly to defend Israel, which is a natural role for him to play. He does not go through the convoluted story that AIG and you presented to us … that you care about democracy in Syria, or about Syrian people. You need to understand that most people here do not appreciate being asked to play along with your stated objective for camping here full time. How would you like it if one of us, Syrians, follow you full time and start criticizing everything in your life, then when you complain, you get “but I am only doing this because I care about you”!

Chris, I can allow a propagandist if he is not repetitive, if he is an expert on what he is saying, if he choses his battles carefully, and if he is not here full time …

You are restricted to 6 comments per day. And I need you to understand that you will follow AIG soon if you fail to respect the spirit of the rules of this blog … we want intelligent debates, not propaganda… and definitely not an Israeli propaganda that hides under a human rights cover.

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February 19th, 2009, 9:30 pm

 

83. norman said:

Good job, Alex,

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February 20th, 2009, 1:50 am

 

84. Akbar Palace said:

Nafdik states:

Assuming there is Uranium on the site.

Do you conclude that Israel is justified in bombing Syria?

Yes.

Do you generalize to say that any country developing a nuclear bomb could/should be attacked by its neighbor?

No, I do not generalize about countries developing a nuclear bomb. There still aren’t a lot of countries developing nuclear bombs, and so I would evaluate this “case-by-case”.

Some countries are developing nuclear weapons in violation of int’l agreements and/or threatening other countries. Baathist Iraq was one example.

Or do you think this should be limited only for countries that constitute a threat to that neighbor?

There is int’l law, int’l modes for insuring (some) countries do not develop nuclear weapons, and a nation’s responsibility of protecting her citizenry. All of these factor together and there are no black and white answers to this complicated problem.

Or that it should be limited to countries whose name start with S or I?

Personally, the IAEA should ensure that no sponsor of international terrorism have the ability to produce WMD. That’s my opinion.

Alex states:

You need to understand that most people here do not appreciate being asked to play along with your stated objective for camping here full time.

But the objective of bashing Israel is one of the main objectives here on your forum. Why not let the participants bash any side they want?

How would you like it if one of us, Syrians, follow you full time and start criticizing everything in your life…

If you’re referring to the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict, then your “hypothetical” question is not hypothetical. the particpants here criticize Israel everyday, many times over.

… then when you complain, you get “but I am only doing this because I care about you”!

I don’t recall anyone “caring” about anything, except to informal advice.

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February 20th, 2009, 1:34 pm

 

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